160. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality her plans to remove exclusions from temporary release for all categories of prisoner. [12677/16]


Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The legislative basis for making decisions on temporary release is set out in the Criminal Justice Act 1960, as amended by the Criminal Justice (Temporary Release of Prisoners) Act 2003.
In September 2014 I published the report of the Penal Policy Review Group which was tasked with carrying out a strategic review of penal policy. The terms of reference for the Group included an examination and analysis of the role of penal policy in crime prevention; sentencing policies; alternatives to custody; custodial accommodation and regimes; reintegration and rehabilitation; and any special issues relating to female offenders.
The Review Group considered those offences for which temporary release is prohibited other than for “a grave reason of humanitarian nature”. These concern persons sentenced to the presumptive minimum or mandatory sentence for certain drugs and firearms offences and those convicted of capital murder Section 5, Criminal Justice Act 1990. Given the seriousness with which society rightly regards crimes of capital murder, the Review Group did not recommend any change in the prohibition of temporary release to this latter category of offender. It did recommend the removal of the prohibition on temporary release for those in the former category i.e. offenders who receive the presumptive mandatory sentence for a drugs or firearms offence should be removed.
This matter is being kept under review.